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Ford Investing Millions in Self-Driving Car Plant

At the end of last year, Ford Motors said it plans to pour a $900 million investment into one of their plants in Michigan to manufacture self-driving cars, with 850 new jobs created.

At the Washington Auto Show in January, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder pointed out that while Silicon Valley startups are what are most reported, American OEM car manufacturers are the leaders in job creation.

The state of Michigan has a become a focal point for research and development into self-driving vehicles, with seven R&D centers and 27 assembly plants in the state adding to its historical experience in industrial innovation.

In 2015, the University of Michigan opened Mcity, a 32-acre testing facility for self-driving vehicles. This will soon be more than matched by the American Center for Mobility (ACM), a 500-acre testing ground for connected and automated vehicle technology.

Demand for skilled workers

While some are concerned about automation killing factory jobs, Ford Vice President Curt Magleby said at the auto show that there is current and ongoing demand for skilled workers. He pointed out that the role of workers will change and that the education system needs to get ready for the future.

Across America, partnerships between manufacturers and educators are leading to the emergence of training centers, joining forces with R&D centers such as Mcity and ACM.

For example, in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, Washtenaw Community College is joining forces with Wayne County Community College to train skilled professionals in the development of connected and automated vehicles at the American Center for Mobility.

Governor Snyder added, “There’s a bright future for manufacturers in terms of the industry because they’re being proactive. They’re not being reactive. In the old days, they were reactive to a lot of the trends affecting them. Now they’re helping lead this trend.”

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